Jul 272003
Authors: Colleen Buhrer

With dry conditions in yet another year of drought, fire danger continues to pose a threat.

Despite the majority of fire being in the southwest corner of the state near Durango, the fire danger is high throughout the state, said Ron Hodgson, a social scientist with the Bureau of Land Management.

“We’ve been seeing pretty good burning all over the state,” he said.

There is a countywide ban for all of Larimer County lasting until Sept. 30, according to the Larimer County Web site. This ban restricts any open fires and fireworks; including “camp and cooking fires, welding or operating a torch with an open flame,” according to the Web site. Smoking outside a vehicle or building is also restricted.

“The resolution means IT IS OKAY to have contained fires in the permanent grates in campgrounds such as those at Horsetooth Reservoir and Carter Lake and to cook or heat with bottled gas or pressurized liquid fuel in containers meant for that purpose,” says the Web site.

The fire danger is high as a result of hot, dry, windy weather. Whenever it is hot, vegetation burns more easily, Hodgson said. Hodgson gave the example of the exhaust and catalytic converter of a vehicle off the road could even start a fire.

“Even a cigarette can cause a fire,” he said.

If campers are interested in having a campfire in places that it is allowed, Hodgson suggests some tips for keeping it safe. He suggests clearing at least five feet around the pit, even if it has a ring. Clear any dry materials or anything that could catch fire easily.

Afterwards to stop the campfire it is important to flood it with water, mix it up and make sure it is cold enough to put a hand in it, Hogdson said.

“Small fires are always better then big fires,” he added.

If someone comes across a fire or accidentally starts one on their own they should call 911 to report it as soon as possible. They should look for what kind of fuel it is burning in and the exact location to tell the firefighters, Hogdson said.

“Be very careful to be safe,” he said. “Fire can grow and spread very quickly.”

If it is safe enough, people can scrape fuels away from the fire so it can’t spread and sprinkle water on the fire. Hogdson notes that just dumping water on it wastes a lot of water, thus sprinkling is more effective.

Hogdson said it is important to be vigilant about the danger fires present. Alcohol and being at leisure tend to be a problem as people aren’t paying as much attention to the possible danger. Hogdson says there always needs to be someone paying attention.

Anybody knowingly violating the open fire and fireworks ban in Larimer County can be convicted of a Class 2 petty offense and can be fined up to $1,000, according to the Larimer County Web site.

“There is a graduated fine schedule that can be assessed and includes $100 dollars for the first offense; $250 dollars for the second offense within sixty days of the first offense; $500 dollars for each additional offense within sixty days of the first offense,” according to the Web site. “In addition persons convicted of a violation of this Ordinance are subject to a surcharge of ten dollars.”

Hogdson says that even though it has been moister this year, it is important to remember Colorado is still in a drought.

“We are still in a drought and things are very dry. Even living trees do not have as much moisture as usual,” he said. “Remember that even though we had a wet spring, the fire danger is still high. Be vigilant about those things.”


Open fires include any open burning, including camp and cooking fires; welding, or operating a torch with an open flame. Open fires do not include:

1. Fires in camp stoves or grills, fueled by bottled gas or pressurized liquid, and specifically designed for cooking or heating purposes.

2. Fires in permanently constructed stationary masonry or metal fireplaces specifically designed for the purpose of combustion.

Fires in large commercially operated wood and/or charcoal fired grills designed for cooking.

Source: www.co.larimer.co.us/hot/fireban.htm

For more information visit the Larimer County Web site www.co.larimer.co.us.

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